Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological condition in which the brain becomes progressively damaged over many years. Parkinson's is thought to affect one in 500 people in the UK, thus 127,000 individuals living in the UK are suffering from Parkinson's disease.
Unfortunately there is no cure as of yet for Parkinson's disease but research into finding one is always continuing. It has been found that men are more likely to get the disease than women and most people who develop symptoms are much more likely to be over the age of 50 however it is thought that 1 in 20 sufferers first experience some sort of symptom when they are under the age of 40.
What causes Parkinson's is the loss of nerve cells; the nerve cells are responsible for producing a chemical called dopamine, which without dopamine a person’s movements become much slower and it will take them longer to achieve things, even simple tasks. Parkinson's disease symptoms include a variety of different things that at first may not be so obvious to themselves, friends or family members but as time progresses so does the disease. The three main symptoms of Parkinson's are slowness of movement, stiffness of movement and tremors. A person with Parkinson's disease can also experience a wide range of other physical and psychological symptoms, including depression, constipation, and insomnia, loss of sense of smell and memory problems. What’s important to remember is that not everyone’s experience of Parkinson's is the same. Some individuals may suffer more symptoms than others.
Living with Parkinson's disease
Understandably living with Parkinson's disease can be a very emotional and worrying time for the individual but also for the friends and family of the sufferer. Although there is no cure there are treatments in place to manage the symptoms of Parkinson's. When the symptoms of Parkinson's become troublesome drug treatment is the main method used to control them. Most of the drugs that are used whilst treating patients with Parkinson's aim to increase the level of dopamine. Several other methods may include speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. For some patients there may also be the possibility of surgery. But this will be monitored and fully accessed.
Living with the condition can be stressful; there is lots of advice to help ease symptoms. For someone with Parkinson's it is extremely important that they stay as physically and mentally fit as they can and try to reduce the amount of stress. To eliminate stress, regular exercise is very important this can also relieve muscle stiffness. A healthy balanced diet gives the body all the nutrients it needs and can help lift somebody’s mood. It can be awfully tough and worrying talking to others regarding the condition but support is necessary, opening up to friends, family members or a GP can be exceptionally useful, this can help with anxiety and frustration.
People suffering from Parkinson's disease face demanding tasks and challenges each day. These tasks to another person may seem very simple but in fact are extremely difficult to the individual. Everyone’s experience will be different but there sure are issues that arise on a daily basis that will need to be tackled. Fortunately, as the following section demonstrates, people with Parkinson’s disease and their families can choose from a wide range of very effective aids that can help with these difficult tasks and many other aspects of the condition.
Parkinson’s disease can affect a very large part of the individual’s life and daily routine. Below are some great products to ease the stress and help with the person’s independence and self-esteem.
Slowness and stiffness of the muscles can make it extremely difficult for sufferers to manoeuvre themselves in and out of a bath safely, therefore grab rails are an exceptionally useful product for people suffering from the condition. Other useful bathing and washing aids consist of bath steps, tap turners and long handled sponges for those areas of the body that are difficult to reach.
Muscle stiffness can make the easiest of tasks seem particularly challenging. To reduce the difficulty of day to day tasks, there is a wide variety of products to help, from extra-long shoe horns, long handled combs and brushes and also elastic & specialist shoe laces.
Eating & drinking
People suffering from tremors and shakes will find it rather hard or almost impossible to use regular cutlery or cups. Weighted cutlery will be very useful at meal times along with plate surrounds & guards to reduce the changes of spills or accidents.
An individual suffering from Parkinson’s disease may find tasks or activities in the kitchen very hard. There is a wide variety of different products that will aid a sufferer on a day to day basis. For tremors and muscle stiffness items such as the kettle tipper will be exceptionally useful to avoid accidents. Other items such as hot drink dispensers, food preparation aids and non-slip mats all help to avoid accidents.
Day to day living may be seen as a challenge, however products have been specifically designed to help . Item such as key turners, grab rails, plug-pulls, and general aids can always help with tasks around the house.
Support and information
Someone living with or someone supporting someone with the condition may find the following websites and organisations information very useful.